Monday, November 29, 2010

Pick Your Devil

Al Gore

.. Ignoramus, ostrich, liberal, conservative, reactionary, curmudgeon, rationalist, nationalist, politician, etc.: choose your position and blame the other.
.. Methane, carbon dioxide, CFC, fossil fuel, deforestation, nitrogen oxide, rice paddies, orbital wandering, natural cycle: all or something else is the cause.
.. Whatever the case, there is some sort of long-term climate change trend in Montana, (and elsewhere - we're told.) So what?
.. A note, yesterday, in the Billings Gazette  presents one bit of activity for "Conserving Montana's wildlife during climate change."

Montana's average air temperature has increased 2.3 degrees Fahrenheit from 1951 through 2006, compared to a 1.25 degree increase for the entire United States. Our average winter snowpack has declined 17 percent over the same period, and spring rain has increased 5.9 percent. August precipitation has declined more than 20 percent in the 55-year period. Glacier National Park's storied glaciers are disappearing, with only 26 remaining of 150 that existed in 1850.

Reduced snowpack, more spring rain, lower streamflows and melting glaciers tell a story of environmental change that is beyond rational debate. People might argue about the cause, but the trends in air temperature, precipitation and recession of glaciers strongly suggest our state's climate is changing more rapidly and extremely than we predicted just 20 years ago.

These changes are forcing our big-game populations to adapt to changes in their forage base and shift migration patterns to accommodate the changing weather. Variations in water quality and quantity are transforming some of our native cutthroat trout rivers to smallmouth bass waters.
Wetland loss in the prairie pothole region in northeastern Montana could severely reduce waterfowl productivity in North America's duck-breeding “factory.” The loss of the insulation of prairie snow cover can kill young prairie grouse and pheasants in early spring when air temperatures are still low or freezing.
.. Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is updating its comprehensive fish and wildlife conservation strategy to include adaptive measures to better protect and manage fish and wildlife across broad landscapes in a changing climate, using strategies presented in “Beyond Seasons' End,” and from the USFWS.
.. The newspaper article also paints a pretty bleak picture of the future for our native Bull Trout and Cutthroat Trout.
.. The "SEASON'S END" website points to changes and actions that can be taken to address these times and conditions.
.. They have published a book about the happenings. Request the Free book HERE. They have also made the book available, (online PDF download, Give it time it's large and full of pretty pictures.)
.. It's above zero by a degree or two and the snow flies are going to be dancing all day between the lakes at the Hebgen Tailwater. The snow is getting deep but the trail is keeping pace. Time for some bangers and mash.